As promised, I went and got the family's Christmas tree last weekend.
I ended up going to Lowes...which, as I've mentioned before, isn't a suitable place to buy things like plumbing supplies, wood screws or light bulbs. Naturally, a Christmas tree is a perfect thing to buy from there, right?
Well, it seemed so. The tree didn't look too bad. Of all the
twigs trees left, the one I selected was the best-looking one. So, I hefted it up, much to the delight of my children who were impressed by my feat of strength, and carried it up front. An old man asked if I'd like it trimmed a little bit and if I want the bottom branches cut off. Well, sure, I would, I said. I set it in the holder and then watched as the old man picked up an electric chain saw and could not figure out why it was not working.
"You may want to plug that in," I pointed out to the old man. He chuckled, plugged the saw in, and cut my tree. He then proceeded to mutilate the bottom part of the tree as he chopped off smaller branches with all the grace and dexterity of a drunken rhinoceros.
I took the tree, paid for it, and headed out to the car where I had to toss it in the back--Lowes, help you tie something to the roof? Perish the motherfuckin' thought. We drove home and I prepared lunch for the children and then decided to try my best to get the tree on the base. However, there's no hole in the base, so I have the bash the fucking base onto the tree, which doesn't go so well because all I can find is a rubber mallet and a flooring hammer. At this point, I'm a little incensed, but I finally get the tree on there far enough I feel it won't fall over.
I brought the tree in and watered it, twisting and turning it so that the thin spots were as hidden as possible. At that point, my hands were covered in sap and rosin, my arms and face were scratched by the needles, I had hit my head on the back hatch to my car, and my patience was at an end.
The following day, after letting the branches of the tree settle, I sighed at how shitty the tree looked. It's not that it's a bad little tree, Charlie Brown, it's just that it's not very wide. And it's a bit...uneven...gappy even. But, it's a tree, and it's indoors, and that's what it's about, right?
So, I started to put the lights on the tree when I suddenly realized that the outlet in front of which I parked the tree doesn't work. I didn't swear--too much--at this miscalculation on my part (read: boneheaded mistake because I didn't remember that half of the outlets in my living room don't work). I finally found an extension cord, plugged in the lights and strung the lights around the tree. Unfortunately, my glasses are so old and so bad and so scratched that it actually hurts to look at the lights of the tree because they are so blurred. My wife fixed the lighting issue for me.
I left the decorating to the kids, and they did an admirable job with it. It might not be the White House Christmas Tree or the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, but it's good enough for us. I'm sure Santa Claus will find it suitable for present deposition on Christmas morning.
That is, if I can find where I put the tree skirt after I washed it last year...
With all that in mind, I think this might be my last real tree, as this could be the most annoying one that I've had to buy and set up so far. And when the time comes to take the tree down, you can be damned sure that I'll be firing this little phrase off when I need to dispose of the body. Or bough. Or whatever the fuck it is.
Pronounced: "Nay-cah eeg-nee!"
Just the tree. She can stay.
Legend has it that the Christmas tree became a symbol of Christianity when one Saint Boniface (his name is Latin for "doer of good deeds"--see how that works out?) decided that he'd had enough of the pagan symbol of Thor's Oak tree. So, he did the logical thing: he cut it down.
The reasons for cutting down the tree were many, but they mostly revolved around getting rid of a site sacred to a pagan god. He also wanted to show that Thor wasn't all that, and that his mighty oak could be destroyed. When everyone saw that Thor did not strike Boniface down for felling his mighty tree, they converted to Christianity.
Boniface then noticed that, among the roots, a tiny fir tree was growing. Being the opportunist that he was, Boniface said that the fir tree should become a symbol of Christ. He then began to spread Christianity throughout the German world, including Bavaria, making him the Patron Saint of Brewers.
Germans and Swedes had for a long time been decorating evergreen trees during the darkest part of the winter in order to welcome the coming spring. They would hang candles and apples and paper stars and all sorts of shit from the trees in a midwinter celebration. Some of the trees were left in the yard, some were cut down and propped up next to the door, and some were brought inside. Eventually, the two traditions were combined, and the modern-age Christmas tree was born. The Germans eventually brought the tradition to America in the 18th century, about two hundred years after the practice of decorating a fir tree became widely associated with Christmas.
Despite all this, and his connection to the Christmas tree, St. Boniface's day of veneration is June 5th. Makes perfect fucking sense.
Felix dies natalis Christi.